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2013-14 breakout candidates
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - With the 2013 MLB All-Star Game less than one day old and NFL training camps opening up next week, basketball is probably the last sports-related thing you are thinking about right now.

But that's why I'm here -- to think for you.

And since the NBA Draft is done, most free agents are signed and many teams already have their starting lineup set, it's time to discuss breakout candidates for 2013-14.

Here are six players you can bank on to have career years this season.

Jeff Teague, PG, Atlanta Hawks - Teague was a solid fantasy point guard last season, averaging 14.6 points, 7.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.1 threes and shooting 88.1 from the foul line, and high-usage forward Josh Smith signed with the Detroit Pistons this offseason. Smith, who ranked 24th in the NBA with a 26.78 percent usage rate, according to hoopdata.com, was replaced by a less dynamic player in Paul Millsap. That means the Hawks will lean more heavily on Teague next season, and the point guard should see his field-goal attempts and free-throw attempts rise.

Jeff Green, F, Boston Celtics - Yes, Green is still a member of the Celtics. He was one of the only players on the team that GM Danny Ainge didn't send packing on a one-way trip to hang with the hipsters in Brooklyn. And with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry gone and MarShon Brooks, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries in the fold as their replacements, Green is going to be Boston's No. 1 offensive option. This is the same guy who averaged 16.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 threes in 33 minutes over his last 39 games (17 starts) last season.

Ricky Rubio, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves - Rubio still can't shoot, but he showed a propensity for getting to the foul line often last season. After muddling through the first month and a half following his return from an ACL tear, Rubio averaged 13.3 points, 8.3 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 4.4 made free throws in his final 38 games. He played that stretch without Kevin Love and with Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko cycling in and out of the lineup due to injuries. Having Love back and sharpshooter Kevin Martin in the fold for the drive-and-kick game should only help Rubio's numbers, as should the continued development of the 22-year-old's game.

Eric Bledsoe, G, Phoenix Suns - Bledsoe's per-36-minute numbers last season as a backup with the Los Angeles Clippers were fantastic -- he averaged 14.9 points, 5.4 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. Now with the Suns, the athletic freak will see 33-plus minutes as a combo-guard in a backcourt that lacks depth, and he certainly has the talent to match those per-36 numbers from last season.

Jonas Valanciunas, PF/C, Toronto Raptors - Drafted in 2011, Valanciunas remained in Lithuania for a year before making his NBA debut last season. After averaging 21 minutes, 6.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over his first 43 games, Valanciunas finished up by producing 13.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while shooting 63.4 percent from the field and 84.2 percent from the foul line (on 5.0 free-throw attempts per game) in 30 minutes over his final 19. The 7-footer just turned 21 years old in May and should only continue to grow as an inside force for the Raptors.

Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards - As a rookie, Beal took a couple of months to adjust to the NBA 3-point distance -- he shot 26.9 percent from long range on 4.2 attempts per game through the end of 2012 -- but once he did, he turned D.C. into Seattle, making it rain for three months. In his final 30 games, Beal shot 4.3 threes per game and made 48.4 percent of them. The John Wall-Beal backcourt is one that is very intriguing for fantasy purposes.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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